I didn’t think I would have a reply to Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s essay on the peacock because I have little experience with the bird. Once I saw one on the roof of a farmhouse in northern Illinois, another time I saw and heard them at a public garden somewhere and then there were the few at that alligator tourist attraction near Orlando, Florida.
Nezhukumatathil doesn’t necessarily focus on peacocks, but on her relationship with them — how she loved them, seeing they all over the place on a trip to India, and how she drew one for an animal drawing contest in grade school, only to be told that the assignment was to draw an American animal. That’s something I can sort of identify with, a teacher calling me out on my artwork involving a bird.
In my case the bird in question was a turkey and in my case I only had to color it, not draw it. We were told to color our turkeys and bring them to the teacher so she could write our names on them for name tags for our desks. When I brought my finished turkey to my fourth grade teacher, made fun of the way I colored it and refused to write my name on it. This is the same teacher that told me I couldn’t sing. To this day I don’t even try to do artwork, even coloring in those grown-up coloring books. Nor do I sing out loud within hearing distance of anyone other than family (and that only rarely).
Aimee Nezhukumatathil finally got over her self-professed hatred of the color blue and finally admitted that peacock blue is her favorite color. In my case — I have not gotten over the stings of criticism from Mrs. Tidwell.
I’m just now getting around to some bits and pieces on my desk. This card was designed and drawn by Alex and Andrew wrote inside: Mom — Hope you like the card, flowers and cake. Glad we got to spend this birthday with you. Congrats on 64! Hope to be with you for many more! Love Andy + . Apparently Alex was supposed to sign it too.
In 2000 when I graduated from George Washington University with a Master’s degree my mom, and her two sisters pooled their money and bought me a Lenox mug that featured an illustration of a cedar waxwing (by artist Catherine McClung), my favorite bird and my online persona on several forums. I knew that they’d spent a fair amount on it because Mom cautioned me that it should probably not be used.
I heeded her warning and didn’t use the mug for several years but in April 2013 I decided to start using it, a decision I documented on Facebook:
Fast forward to a little over a month ago during our kitchen renovation, when, while washing dishes in the basement, Dean accidentally knocked the mug to the cement floor where it broke in several pieces. I heard it, I knew what it was and my heart momentarily froze and when he showed me what happened, I replied, “Don’t worry about it. It was bound to happen sometime. I got lots of years out of it.” And strangely, that was how I really felt.
Of course I documented it on Facebook.
The responses were heartwarming and several friends tried to help me find a replacement, at least one even offering to buy me one.
I could not find the exact mug and felt that buying one would be cheating. Part of its appeal was because it was from three special people in my life who were no longer with us.
Two days after the mug was broken my brother commented with a photo of the mug and later said it was an early Christmas gift to me in memory of Mom. It turned out that he found a set of four Lenox bird mugs online and bought them for me.
I got them a week or so later and put them in my China cabinet. I’ll use them someday, but not right now.
Kevin buying them for me was such a surprise, but when I think of it, not that much of a surprise. He’s always been a kind and thoughtful person. I’m lucky he’s my brother.